Dear Veggie Grill, I’m so happy you’ve finally arrived in Washington state!
I’m lucky to have visited Veggie Grill in So Cal on visits home, and have long envied friends who text me with: “Guess who’s going to lunch at Veggie Grill today? THIS GUY!” ever since. I vividly remember the first time I went before heading to LAX to head back to Seattle. I grabbed the All Hail Kale salad with added Blackened Chick’n and the chocolate chip walnut cookie for my flight dinner home, and I reveled in every bite of both on the plane while nearby passengers looked on jealously (or so I imagined).
It seems like many months have passed since news first broke that the chain would be moving further north after landing in Portland, and I knew that I’d have to visit opening day. So the bf and I walked down to South Lake Union Wednesday night to check out the digs and 100% plant-based eats.
First off, location. I walk through South Lake Union constantly but rarely stop to hang there. Due to Amazon taking over the ‘hood with their campus, there’s a lot of cool new options available and this definitely makes the area bustling and perfect for an outfit like Veggie Grill.
When we stepped inside, what I was blown away by was how much larger this location seemed than those I’d been to in CA. It also had a variety of seating available: a few bar seats to watch the food orders come up, private two person tables, booth + chair tables for groups and one long row table situated near the window – perfect for a group outing. I loved this and the options it opens for gatherings and meetings. Bright, modern and oh so clean, this location was definitely visually appealing.
Most assuredly due to the fact that this was opening day, our food came out in mere minutes. In addition to the service being lightning fast, we were approached by no less than four employees (including the general manager) asking if we’d heard of VG before, if we had questions, and how we’d heard of them. I personally appreciated this, and thought it would be especially helpful for noobs and non-vegans. Every individual we interacted with was incredibly sweet and helpful, so kudos Veggie Grill on your impeccable hiring process!
Okay, let’s get to the stuff you really want to read about. We tried a few things for some variety (things we hadn’t tried in the past), but our stomachs are only capable of so much. Thankfully, they’ve added a few new items to the menu that caught our eyes.
I’m surprised that we hadn’t had these in past visits. We’re both huge sweet potato fries fans, and these were good, but not the best we’d ever had. They were nice and crisp and covered in a vegan parmesan cheese-esque topping when they arrived at the table, but the flavor was okay. I would order these again, but I am eager to try some of the other appetizers on future visits.
This was my main meal choice. Everyone has been begging me to try the buffalo wings but it wasn’t in the cards last night, so I thought this a nice compromise. This sandwich was composed of Veggie Grill’s signature crispy chickin’ (made of soy, wheat and pea proteins), which is eerily similar to the real thing in both texture and taste. Covered in vinegary, spicy buffalo sauce, a smooth and savory ranch dressing and lettuce/tomato/onion, it was a treat. The texture was substantial with a great (I hate this word) mouthfeel, and all of the elements of this burger worked together well. I opted for the main side – red cabbage ‘slaw – and it was a nice cooling option. Red cabbage + onion + carrot all melded well with a vinegary dressing (as opposed to heavy mayo), and it was a nice counterbalance to the heartiness of the sandwich. I respect and stand by my choice.
If I picked well, my dude friend hit a home run. This was one of three new homestyle plates and it is very much a hearty meal option: fried chickin’, cauliflower mashed potatoes, porcini mushroom gravy and steamed kale. I had a few bites of all of this and I was blown away by all the flavors at play. It was a very home cooked meal kind of meal, with the vegan chicken fried steak, smooth and flavorful potatoes, and all of it covered in rich mushroom-based gravy and lightened with the addition of kale. I would totally order this myself and plan on doing so.
One. Thousand. Times. Yes. What I loved about this dessert is that is sounds unassuming, but your taste buds have no idea what’s about to hit them. A velvety chocolate pudding is topped with a richer chocolate sauce, crushed cookies, walnuts and walnut crema. Just typing this out is making me want another. The walnut crema really stood out to me with its fantastic flavor and its ability to tie this all together. This was especially perfect on a warm summer evening.
Full disclosure: these weren’t items that we purchased, but rather were extra treats offered to us on behalf of Veggie Grill.
Let me be frank: I hate carrot cake, and have since I was about five years old. Usually the carrot/nut combo is too overpowering to be considered a dessert and the frosting has never been quite right with the cake. I’ve tried some since to no avail, but when the manager of the restaurant suggested that we try it, I figured why not? I’m so glad we did. The cake portion of this dessert was decadently rich: screaming of vegan butter and the right amount of sweetness, I could’ve eaten this dessert without the frosting. Carrot flavor was present but melded well with actual cake, and when combined with the smooth cream cheese frosting, forget it. Sold. I’m now a carrot cake lover.
I’m really impressed by our ability to have picked all winners this evening. Usually there’s one dud in the bunch, but not so. I highly recommend all of the aforementioned items. Though Veggie Grill is part of a chain restaurant it is an all-vegan one that boasts non-GMO food, and that’s something I can stand behind. Our first trip was a success and I was pleased with how packed it was on opening day, but I look forward to future lunches and dinners once the dust has settled and every vegan in Seattle has made their way over to check out the new spot, (and tells me about all their dining choices).
446 Terry Ave. North
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.